When it comes to issues of global warming, greenhouse gases and pollution, even the smallest efforts made by different individuals count, but where to start always remains the big question. Well, for the starters you can begin with your food plate. The food for thought here is: ‘Home-grown’, literally. A healthy plate of home-grown food is a step towards healthy environment, says expert Sangeeta Khanna on the eve of World Environment Day. “Our personal health is directly linked to the health of the planet. We need to take the responsibility to make our sources of food sustainable.”Growing some of our own food is a wonderful way to nourish our body and cleanse the environment at the same time,” says Sangeeta Khanna, renowned food writer and nutrition consultant during a talk ‘The Significance of Home- grown Food’ hosted by The Imperial.
But, how can something as small as growing our own vegetables at home change the environment for better? Seeing urban-farming as one-ready solution for the problems in the air, Sangeeta says important is to nip the problem in the bud, and here the major part of the problem is “food scraps…the garbage” creating a pile of land-fills in the city. “If we start counting the number of plastic bags and garbage each household generates everyday, we will be ashamed. Now this garbage is creating a mountain of land-fills in our cities, emitting toxic gases.
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“But if you are into urban-farming, you can segregate your garbage and make use of the organic waste for compost. And doing this you are preventing yourself from the foul smell and the environment from harmful gases,” she added. While the home-grown food helps solving the garbage problem, the food writer says that in the scorching summer a “green cover on your rooftop” is no less than a blessing as it helps in cooling your place. “I managed to live in Delhi without an air conditioner. A good cover of tree and a cooler does the trick for me. “I am not asking you to wipe out the modern lifestyle, but growing plants definitely creates the difference. Like you will not minimise the temperature of your ac every now and then, with that green cover on. This helps create less amount of heat outside,” she says. Before we dig deep, rooftops and gardens in a city like Delhi is a luxury only few can afford. So are we barking up the wrong tree?
“No”, says Shabnam Kapur, Co-founder of Khetify, a Delhi based urban-farming startup. According to her, less is also more when one decides to connect to nature. “All you need is a little space for pot, to grow food. It can be anywhere…balcony, terrace, rooftop, or even kitchen window sill,” says Shabnam. Talking about the reduced nutrition value of vegetables due to being transported from far away places,she says that growing it at home will also help conserve energy spent in transporting it.
“Spinach is coming from 100s of kms by trucks. During that process everyday some of the produce is losing nutrition. “Likewise, the energy to transport one cauliflower is 36 times the calorific value of the energy you get from it. Why are we getting the food from so far away when we can grow it in our own city, at our own house,” she added.
Suggesting dos and don’ts of urban farming, Sangeeta says though all the salad greens and herbs like pudina, rose-mary, parsley, celery, basil can be easily grown at home, however, we need to be judicious in choosing the plants.”Not all plants are equal in terms of water economy, like to grow even one cherry-tomato we need gallons of water. So we should be judicious in choosing our plants. “We should grow plants whose top-to-bottom can be used as a food. For example: drumsticks, they are 40 to 50 times more nutritious than spinach and turmeric…you know from one pot you can get enough turmeric to last for a year,” she says.